Magazine article Psychology Today

Can You Handle the Truth?

Magazine article Psychology Today

Can You Handle the Truth?

Article excerpt

YOUR LONGTIME ROMANTIC partner. A new friend. A stranger on the bus. You probably have an idea of how each ofthese people sees you. Such beliefs, known as meta-perceptions, help you navigate the social world. If you think you've made a bad impression on your boss or neighbor, you'll probably try to correct it during your next encounter.

But our social instincts are far from perfect. A recent study reported in PLOS ONE found that only 53 percent of classmates whom subjects named as "friends" saw those respondents the same way.

How critical is it to correctly read what others think of us? That may depend on which side of a relationship you're on.

"Other people are going to enjoy you more when you know how you come off," but aside from that, there's no obvious gain for you, says psychologist Erika Carlson of the University of Toronto. In a series of studies, she had participants fill out personality measures-to see, for example, how extraverted or conscientious they seemed to themselves-and guess how they would be rated by social connections. Participants who were more accurate about the impression they made tended to be better liked by new acquaintances, and friends reported more favorably on relationships with them. …

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